Special Education

Program offered
  • Special Education (major and emphases)

The Special Education major prepares you to work with individuals with disabilities in various capacities. It is the only undergraduate major housed in the School of Education.

Programs are tailored for students interested in P–12 teaching, disability policy, research, and careers that support individuals with disabilities in community settings. The School of Education works with SPU’s School of Theology to offer programs in Special Education that work in various types of church ministries.

Find out more about this School’s mission, vision, and outcomes.

Special Education (BA)

  • A minimum 50–111 credits are required for this major, including 23–77 upper-division credits.
  • If you are an incoming student interested in the Special Education major, you are encouraged to indicate your intent upon admission to SPU. Indication of interest does not commit you to the program, but will ensure that you received the advising and information about the Special Education program requirements.
  • To become a P–12 certified Washington state teacher, you must complete the Elementary Emphasis with Certification or the Secondary Emphasis with Certification. Please see the Certification Office in the School of Education for more details.
  • If you do NOT want to become a P–12 school teacher, choose the Special Education Studiesl Emphasis or Educational Ministry Emphasis. 

Teaching track

  • The Special Education major with teaching will develop you into a teacher with the knowledge and skills to design and implement appropriate education for students with disabilities. 
  • You must major in either Special Education: Elementary Emphasis with Certification or Special Education: Secondary Emphasis with Certification.
  • The P–12 Special Education Certification requirements for Special Education are maintained by the School of Education certification office and listed by emphasis.
  • The Special Education major requirements are maintained by the Special Education Department and program chair.
  • If you are a transfer student, you must complete a minimum 15 upper-division credits in Special Education coursework prior to your Internship.

Second endorsement

Washington state requires that teacher candidates pursuing an endorsement in Special Education must also earn a second endorsement in a content area.

Students will work with the certification advisor to develop a “Plan of Study” for earning a second endorsement. Please make an appointment with the certification advisor as soon as possible to begin working on this plan. Students can make appointments by emailing soeinfo@spu.edu or at the front SOE office in Peterson Hall 300.

Non-teaching tracks

The non-teaching track in Special Education prepares you to work with individuals with disabilities outside the classroom setting. This major serves three general interest areas:

  • If you are pursuing a Special Education degree and plan to work with state, local, or nonprofit agencies that serve individuals with disabilities. This includes direct-service providers and advocacy groups.
  • If you wish to work with individuals and families with disabilities in faith-based or church settings.
  • If you plan to pursue an advanced degree in special education or related fields (e.g., researchers in special education, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and physical therapists).

Special Education Studies emphasis

In collaboration with the special education advisor, students are placed in community-based settings working directly with individuals with disabilities, working in agencies that serve students with disabilities, or working alongside professors on research projects dealing with disability issues. 

  • A minimum 10 practicum credits are required to complete the major.
  • This practicum is set up in collaboration with a special education advisor.
  • This practicum is not for teacher certification.  

Educational Ministry emphasis

Students in this track benefit from a partnership with the School of Education and SPU’s School of Theology. Coursework from both programs provides you with a foundation in both disability studies and educational ministry.

  • When you graduate from this program, you are prepared to address disability issues in church and parachurch organizations.
  • Internship/Practicum requirements for this emphasis reflect this need, and graduates are prepared to address methods for including all people in worship and church life.
  • A minimum 10 practicum credits are required to complete the major.
  • The practicum is in collaboration with SPU’s School of Theology.

entering and completing the major

In order to earn a degree, you must complete an academic major. SPU encourages students to explore various academic paths, and students are not required to enter a major immediately upon admission to the University. However, you should enter a major by the end of your sophomore year to help ensure your timely completion of a degree. Students who transfer as juniors and seniors should identify and enter their major within their first two quarters at SPU.

  • If this is your first quarter at SPU and you wish to enter a major in this department, you may select a program by using the online Major or Minor Application form. You will receive an email notification of acceptance.
  • If you are an SPU student with an SPU cumulative GPA of 2.0 or better, use the online Major or Minor Application form to select your major. You will receive an email notification of acceptance. Students on academic probation (with an SPU cumulative GPA below 2.0) will not be permitted to enter a new major or minor until they regain good academic standing.
  • If you plan to seek teacher certification, maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA once admitted to the major.
  • The University requires a grade of C- or better in all classes that apply to a major or minor; however, programs may require higher minimum grades in specific courses. You may repeat an SPU course only once for a higher grade.
  • To advance in this program, meet with your faculty advisor regularly to discuss your grades, course progression, and other indicators of satisfactory academic progress. If your grades or other factors indicate that you may not be able to successfully complete the major, your faculty advisor can work with you to explore options, which may include choosing a different major.
  • You must complete the major requirements in effect in the SPU Undergraduate Catalog for the year of admittance to the major.


School of Education

Visit the School of Education to see how you can begin to educate youth, achieve your goals, and make a difference in the world.

Time Schedule: Special Education

Course planning

Suggested course sequences help you complete your degree in a timely manner.